Wrestling tries for first state title


M. Warner

Watson takes on Southport’s Carson Niehaus in the second round of the Evansville semi-state.

Sam Findley, Sports Editor


While all seven of the Trojans advancing to the state will have the potential for podium finishes, Watson and Buchanan come into their weight classes as top players and will look to add to the Trojan’s five total state individual titles. 

Center Grove finished 11th in the state last year and came into this year ranked top five. The Trojan’s last top ten finish came in 1994 when they placed 8th. Swain knows how many factors it takes to put a state title contender together and will watch as the pieces fall in place Friday and Saturday to determine the Trojans finish. 

“Winning state titles is tough, and it’ll be a big deal. I mean, it takes a lot of luck. It takes some staying injury free, it takes a lot of preparation and obviously it takes performance. Being able to do that would be awesome,” Swain said. “But with that being said, our guys have worked hard all year and we’ll be happy to get seven guys on the podium and see where the chips fall as far as the team score.”

Weight by Weight 

Eddie Goss 113- 

 Goss will face Western’s Tanner Tishner in the first round. Sophomore Tishner comes in the state finals with a 37-0 record but a slightly worse strength of schedule than Goss who has racked in a 31-12 freshman year. 

If Goss is able to scramble out of the first round then he will face the winner of Johnny Cortez and Gavin Thompson. Thompson will go into his opening match with Cortez as the favorite and would hope to repeat his MIC 6-4 decision over Goss if the pair run into each other again. 

Michael Tharpe 126- 

A daunting task awaits Tharpe in his first round with East Noble senior Aidan Sprague. A perfect season of 35-0 and his last two matches ending in a pin rest in Sprague. Even as the underdog Tharpe will look to be the toughest and most aggressive on the mat.

“Nobody’s tougher than me. Nobody’s tougher than that draw I had last year so I think I can just go out there wrestle and place,” the 126-pound senior said. “ He’s [Sprague] not really aggressive so I’m really pushing that pace on him. Take my shots, take my ties. He doesn’t really do much on his feet. That’s where I’m good [on my feet] . Get a couple takedowns in the first period and then try to ride them out.”

If Tharpe is able to make it back to Saturday he will face the winner of Fishers junior Griffin Ingalls and Penn senior Mateo Vargo who boast 34-7 and 27-2 records respectively.

Wyatt Krejsa 132-

Coming off a 4th place semi-state finish Krejsa will take on New Castle junior Brevan Thrine. A sturdy resume of 33-3 will meet Krejsa in the first round; however, the sophomore said he must come in confident and aggressive. 

“My expectation going into the match is just the way that it’s been this whole year and just go out there and compete and don’t be afraid and let it fly,” Krejsa said. “I know that I have the best takedowns in the whole state of Indiana, and I’m not afraid for anybody and I just gotta do what I gotta do to get it done.”

Looking past the Friday prelims Krejsa is hoping to match up with Crown Point’s Anthony Ball but knows whoever he faces, he will complete the job.

“Second round, I should have a pretty tough kid that I’ve been wanting for a while, supposedly Anthony Ball, but even if it isn’t him, it doesn’t matter; it’s a nameless, faceless opponent. I’m just gonna go out there and compete to get it done,” Krejsa said

Hayden Watson 145- 

With only one loss and a 39-1 record Watson comes into the 145-weight class as one of if not the top dawg. Watson has swept the playoffs so far taking sectionals, regional and semi-state titles. The senior has taken away confidence and knowledge of the approach of his opponents this season and will look to use that in his state finals run. 

“I’m pretty confident I know that they are all winnable matches. I just have to score and wrestle my match,” Watson. “It just gave me a feel for how people are going to wrestle me and to learn and gain a bigger advantage over them

A quarter-final matchup lumes with Watson and last year’s 152 third-place finisher, Perry Merdian’s senior Mathew Koontz. Koontz would likely be Watson’s largest challenge to avenging Watson’s previous runner-up title.

Drake Buchanan 182-

A hiccup came for Buchanan in the regional final where he was bested by Brownsburg’s Henry Gunner 12-7, the senior was able to bounce back after being upset prior with a 13-2 domination of Gunner. 

Buchanan comes into the 182-class as the favorite and faces North Wood senior Trey Tobias who’s racked in a 29-9 record on the season. Head coach Maurice Swain knows even as the favorite Buchanan can’t overlook any matchup. 

“His [Buchanan] goal all season’s been to win the whole thing so we gotta take it one match at a time and do the things we’ve been doing and trust our training, trust our preparation and you know, go let fly and go get it done,” Swain said.

Royce Deckard 220- 

The No. 1 220-pounder in the nation awaits Deckard in the first state finals match of the junior’s career. As the underdog, Deckard faces junior Christian Carroll and will have to leave everything on the mat for an upset to occur. 

“He’s got the number one guy in the country so he’s just got to go out there and let it fly and you know, be confident that he can find a way to win the match and just go out there and compete. That’s all you really can do,” Swain said. “I mean, you got to know upsets happen, and you gotta put yourself in position to do that.”

Nate Johnson 285- 

Sophomore Johnson goes into his first-round matchup with a 29-6 record matching up with New Prairie senior Hunter Whitnack. 

“He’s tall, and we have to figure out that stuff around our moves that we normally do, and figure out where his strengths are and what his weaknesses are,” Johnson said.  “He is very, very tall, he’s strong, he’s big, and he likes to push around. He’s pretty decent on top. So we have been studying that too. So we’re all right, that we got him this time.”

If Johnson can pull away in the opening round and make it back today two he won’t be heavily challenged until the quarter-finals where he would run into Leighton Jones, Indiana No. 1 285 pounder.